You hear the words bandied about quite frequently these days: company culture. But what is a company culture, how can you measure your own and how can you work to improve it? What follows in this, the first of a series of articles on company culture, is a brief discussion of what a company culture is, why it is important to have a good one, and 5 quick tips on how you can work to improve your own company culture. Here we go…
What does ‘company culture’ mean?
Company culture relates to the behaviours of a set of individuals within the same work environment; how they act, the values they ascribe to these actions, their personal goals and how these fit in with the goals of the organisation, and how individuals interact with others in this environment.
It relates to the understanding of a company’s mission, visions and goals by the whole of the workforce; ideally, every person in the organisation will know what the company wants to achieve and work towards this in every instance. It is not enough for an individual to do their tasks because they know it is what is required of them; they should do it because they know it will benefit the company, which they feel a part of.
Why is a good company culture important?
A strong culture helps an organisation to work like a well-oiled machine, where every employee responds to events because of what they know about the company’s values. Little control needs to be exercised over employees in companies with a good work culture because they all know what needs to be done, why and how, and work automatically to achieve it.
Weak cultures, on the other hand, do not have the same kind of alignment to company values, so more effort needs to be placed in controlling employees to keep them on track.
Clearly there is an advantage to a good company culture: less monitoring is required by the higher-ups, and the work that is done is of a higher value to the company.
A company with a clear culture will be able to easily induct new employees into the company’s set of beliefs and encourage ways of working that cohere to the company’s goals and visions as a whole. Employees within a company with a good culture are also more engaged, motivated to succeed and display more organisational loyalty, which can take the form of being less likely to leave the company and being more likely to become an advocate of the organisation.
An increase in team cohesiveness is also a by-product of a good company culture. Individuals know where they stand within a team, trust everyone else to do a good job, feel valued and feel like their contribution is important. This all combines to create a good team working environment, where all members are able to contribute for the good of the whole, like – as mentioned earlier – a well-oiled machine.
So clearly a good company culture is something to aspire to. Not only does it breed a good working environment, but it is beneficial for individuals, teams, departments and organisations as a whole. What’s not to like?
5 quick tips to improve your company culture!
- First, identify where you’re going wrong. Think about how your organisation would work if your company culture was perfect (you can use the above section as a basis for comparison). You can only make progress if you know where you’re coming from.
- Work on communication: create communication channels throughout your company so that key messages are heard by everyone and understood. Get everyone on the same page! For example, an intranet or a Learning Management System can provide you with the means to communicate with all your employees.
- It is clear that being engaged at work and having a good company culture are linked. Increasing engagement can help to bring about a culture change.
- Encourage employees to take pride in their work by rewarding them for great effort. This can be done by introducing an element of fun into work and by utilising gamification techniques – more on this next time!
- Finally, invest in learning, training and increasing employee knowledge. If employees feel that they are valued enough to receive training, they’re more likely to be happy at work and be willing to work towards the values of the company. Hey presto, a good company culture!
There you have it. Five quick, easy tips to get you on your way to creating a great company culture for your organisation. Good luck, have fun and let us know how you get on!